‘Sticky’ like candy: Vaping may increase risk of cavities

New research suggests that vaping could increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities.

Aerosolized e-liquid in vape pens can coat teeth with a sticky, sugary film, which promotes the growth of bacteria. It’s like sucking on a lollipop before bed, said Dr. Karina Inusa, an assistant professor of comprehensive dental care at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and a study co-author.

The addition of artificial sweeteners or flavors to the sticky aerosol could create a perfect breeding ground for caries. Irusa explained that bacteria feed on sugar.

The study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association on Wednesday is preliminary and does not prove that vaping leads to cavities.

Experts who study vaping among young people are concerned that e-cigarette use is so common in adolescents. In the United States, 2,5 million teens vape.

“The aerosol’s stickiness may be the main culprit.”

Bonnie Halpern Felsher is a professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. She said, “We know young people vape 24/7.” HalpernFelsher wasn’t involved in the new study. “Teens told us anecdotally that they would wake up at night to take hits,” she said. They keep their vaping products under their pillows and vape throughout the night.

Tufts’ research focuses on adult patients who seek treatment in the school’s dental clinic. Just 136 patients out of 13,216 said that they vaped.

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Many patients are already at high risk of tooth decay due to factors such as diet and other oral health problems.

Irusa discovered that e-cigarette vapers were “significantly” more likely to develop cavities than those who didn’t vape.

The Tufts researchers suggested that people who vape may need specific treatments, such as prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash.

Irusa’s previous research suggested that the decay caused by e-cigarettes may occur in an unexpected area: at the tip of the front teeth.

These areas are easier to clean, so they don’t get as dirty. Irusa stated that they are easier to reach. Musa said, “I believe that the sticky aerosol could be the main culprit.”

Purnima Kumar, spokesperson for the American Dental Association and chair of the Department of Periodontology and Oral Medicine of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, said: “This is exactly the outcome we expected.”

Kumar did not participate in the new study but published separate research that showed e-cigarette use completely and rapidly altered a person’s oral microbiome.

Kumar stated that “within six months, these individuals had changed their oral profiles at the cellular level.” The changes would have only been visible after five years of regular smoking.

Vapes contain e-liquids that are heated, including propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and nicotine.

Bacteria are always looking for food. She said that even if you vape today, your bacteria will continue to feed off your vape for 10 hours.

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